Ted Ross - Escape from Hong Kong

 

HERO RosetteAdmiral Chan Chak in Kukong   
  Click here to read more ©Ted Ross & escape party at Waichow, Photos from the Chan Chak & Collingwood collections © Admiral Chan Chak and party arriving in Waichow   
  Click here to read more   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©HERO stamp

 

 

 

Charles Edwin [Ted] Ross, Ministry of Information (MoI) Hong Kong

1912 - 2005

Ted Ross a former purser with Canadian Pacific Steamships Ltd and later based in their office on the 1st floor of the Bund 27 building in Shanghai. Ted volunteered as a Red Cross ambulance driver when the Japanese attacked in 1937. Ted was a keen sportsman and rowed successfully for the Shanghai rowing club, as did Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR. Ted was posted to Hong Kong after four years in Shanghai where David MacDougall recruited him as his assistant in the "Ministry of Information".

During the battle for Hong Kong Ted and his boss David MacDougall were fully employed countering the Japanese propaganda within the Colony.

Ted Ross MoI : "There were an estimated million and a half Chinese (civil population) on the Island, in addition to approximately twenty-five thousand Europeans, mostly British. Our job was to keep them informed of the military position. To that end we had to see to it, as far as possible, that all English and Chinese newspapers kept publishing.
We made three trips a day up to Battle Headquarters for official communiqués. These were passed to the Press, in addition to a multitude of notices that were required to be promulgated as necessity arose. These notices covered everything from warnings not to drink water unless it was boiled first, to appeals for warm clothing for Kowloon evacuees; and from instructions covering air raid precautions to appeals to the populace to remain calm and not to listen to rumours and scaremongering."

The Ministry of Information (MoI) was set up to maintain public morale through the use of publicity and propaganda via the media. Home intelligence was a department within the MoI used to observe and monitor the public mood, gathering intelligence from the likes of shop keepers, publicans, clergymen, shop stewards, as well as G.Ps, letter opening and phone tapping. The MoI also produced propaganda films for public showing.

From Shaoguan (Kukong) members of the Aberdeen Island escape party were flown to Chungking for debriefing. The arrival of Cmdr Hugh Montague RN (Rtrd), Police Supt Bill Robinson of the Indian Police Intelligence unit, Captain Peter Macmillan, Captain Reginald (Freddie) Guest, Sq-Ldr Max Oxford, all staff officers of HKBHQ, David MacDougall, and Edwin (Ted) Ross both of the Ministry of Information arrival in the early hours made the British national and regional press the same day 15th January 1942.

Ted supplied a detailed account of the events in Hong Kong and subsequent escape.


Ted Ross dived overboard as Admiral Chan Chak calmly took to the waves 
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape © 
	Click here for more information

 

 

 

Ted Ross MOI: "Well, we hadn't gone much more than five or six hundred yards when we were spotted from the shore and the Jap's let fly at us with everything they had, rifles, machine guns and small shells.
Several of our chaps were hit, and soon a shot put the engine out of commission, that capped it.
The machine gun bullets kept tearing in. Mac got one right in his tin hat, another cut through the sole of his shoe, and just as he was saying how close they were coming he got one right in the back.
" [28]

Left: Photo from Maj Goring's daring-do article on the escape published in 1949. [17]

Adm Chan Chak: "The Danish steer man was the first one shot, then the engineer. MacDougall and others were wounded. Most of the stray bullets had hit the boat and even some had hit my helmet.
Hsu was very wary about me the “One Foot Admiral of 50” swimming such a far distance.
I insisted to carry my own gun and passport. Yeung could not swim and he suggested that we should go back to Hong Kong. “Going back means surrender. I would rather die!” I said.
I took off my life preserver (which was the last one on board) and gave it to Yeung. As I raised my hand, a stray bullet went right through my left hand.
Yeung didn’t say anything anymore, he just jumped into the sea, followed by MacDougall with his wounded back.
YeeSiu-Kee and 2 other British soldiers had to remain on the boat. Yee could not swim and the 2 soldiers were badly wounded.
We were all sitting ducks in the water and non-stop bullets were flying everywhere.
I finally swam ashore on the small island right next to Apliechau."
[6]

Along with S.K. were two severely wounded volunteer crew left in the boat, the big forty seven year old Jutlander, Alexis Damsgaard & Irishman J. J. Forster. After drifting all night the launch fetched up on the shore and S.K. bribed a junk man to take the two wounded to a hospital.

S.K. Yee: "I put the two others on a junk, asking the fishermen to take them to a hospital on the mainland (Hong Kong).
I was kept some days at Pak Sha wan and subsequently I had to return to the church at Apliechau, which was under the Reverend Cheng. I took shelter at the church for some days before making my final escape to Free China."
[62]

Of the sixteen who set out on "HMS Cornflower's" launch, two were killed, one taken prisoner, another made good his own escape while the remaining twelve made it to the MTB's.

Clutching Hsu Heng (Henry)'s bible S.K. sought refuge with the Reverend Cheng in the Harbour Mission Church. He eventually made his way to Kukong in free China where Chan Chak was still recovering, arriving there on 5th February 1942 wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes, only to leave two days later as mysteriously as he had arrived after falling out with Chan over the $40.000 (£2,500 GBP) Chan allegedly abandoned in the bullet riddled launch. They remained bitter opponents for the rest of Chan's life.







Waichow


Ted Ross & escape party at Waichow, Photos from the Chan Chak & Collingwood collections ©

Back row: Supt. Bill Robinson, W. O. William M Wright HKRNVR, Capt. Peter Macmillan R. A., Capt. Reginald Guest 1st Mdsx, Coxswain Yeung Chuen CN, Ted Ross MoI>

2nd row: David MacDougall MoI, Adm Chan Chak CN, Major Arthur Goring Probyns Horse, Sq-Ldr. Max Oxford RAF

1st row: Cadet Holger Christensen, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng (Henry) CN.

Photo from Chan Chak collection ©












Ted Ross in Kukong 6th Jan 1942  
    Click here to return to the Waichow group photo  
    
    Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©











Arriving in Shaoguan (Kukong) on 6th January 1942 where the local Girl Guides pinned HERO rosettes to our lapels.

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©















Ted retired to Australia in the 1970's to farm cattle, survived by his son Warwick Ross who is a vigneron at the "Portsea Estate"

Ted Ross kept a detailed diary and audio recordings covering the escape from Hong Kong. He also had an article published in a Canadian magazine, Macleans titled "Escape from Hong Kong" on 15th June, 1st & 15th July 1942

Members of the Christmas Day escape who returned to help rebuild the Colonony of Hong Kong after its return to British control in 1945 included

The MI9 escape team

Mike Kendall

Colin McEwan

[John] Monia Talan

Ted Ross in Shanghai 1937 
	Photo from the Ross fammily @copy

 

 

Ted was a keen sportsman, rowing for the Shanghai rowing club, as did fellow escapee Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR. They were both in teams that beat the Germans in their seperate dicaplins in 1936/37.

Photo from the Ross family @copy

Ted's son Warwick discussing his film project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio by Lion Rock Films

Music; Wild China by  Barnaby Taylor and performed by Cheng Yu and the UK Chinese Ensemble

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Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jnr ©

The contents of this web site led to a considerable number of escapee families contacting me and now each other, and remains the principle source of contact and private information for the spin off projects that have followed. The personal accounts enabled me to record the complete and true account of this remarkable episode of Sino-British war time co-operation. The information compiled here has directly resulted in a museum exhibition in Hong Kong, a re-enactment of the escape in Hong Kong and China, with a movie drama and documentary in the making.

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Ted passed away in 2005 aged 93

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